KENOSHA, Wis. — Jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial were to deliberate on a verdict for a third day Thursday while the judge considers a request from the defense for a mistrial.
A key piece of evidence in the prosecution’s case — a drone video that shows Rittenhouse fatally shootingThe first person he shot at was him. on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 — was called into question Wednesday when Rittenhouse’s defense lawyers said they received a lower quality version of the clip.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide stemming from shootings that occurred during a violent night of protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. If convicted, Rittenhouse faces a life sentence.
The mistrial request was the latest turn in a dramatic trial that has lasted over a week and features dozens of witnesses and videos. Rittenhouse’s lawyers claim he was trying to defend himself. However, the state claims Rittenhouse, then 17, was seeking revenge for the fight that he started when he took his AR-15-style rifle with him downtown. This created an active shooter situation.
Get the latest updates from Wednesdayefense asks for mistrial over video
Judge Bruce Schroeder, who has drawn both sharp criticism and high praise over how he has handled the case, has yet to rule on the mistrial motion. Rittenhouse would not be allowed to go back on trial if he had not decided on his defense motion for mistrial with prejudice.
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during the tense night of protests. Unrest erupted after Jacob Blake was shot by a white officer. Blake is a Black man left paralysed from his waist. All federal and state charges against the officer were dropped.
Rittenhouse also faces reckless endangerment charges. Rittenhouse’s jury was given instructions to take into account lesser-included charges.
Lawyers spar over drone video
On Wednesday, Schroder received a question from jurors about viewing the video evidence. Lawyers then engaged in a heated debate regarding the drone footage.
Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi called for a mistrial in the afternoon, saying the issue had to do with basic fairness and that they didn’t realize the clip was a lower quality until Friday when both sides were debating jury instructions.
This video is crucial to Rittenhouse’s state claim that he provoked the attack. It would also cast doubt on whether Rittenhouse could be considered self-defense. Prosecutors say the video shows Rittenhouse raise his rifle at a couple who had been with Rosenbaum much of the night. They claim that Rittenhouse’s actions provoked Rosenbaum, who chased Rittenhouse and shot Rosenbaum four more times, after the couple had crossed a parking lot.
The defense said that’s not what the video showed, adding that Rosenbaum had been acting aggressively and irrationally all night, threatening to kill Rittenhouse if he caught him alone.
The video didn’t come into play in the trial until Nov. 5, when a former employee from the the owner of the company that operated the droneIt was dropped off at a detective by Assistant District Attorney James Kraus on Wednesday. The video was shared at some point during the sharing process.with defense attorneys, the file was condensed, thereby lowering its quality.
However, Kraus cast doubt on the defense’s claim that they didn’t have a higher-quality version, saying Ritenhouse’s former attorney, John Pierce, had shared the drone video last year on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and the footage appeared to be of high resolution.
Jurors were shown the clip during the trial and given a laptop that included it and other videos to review during deliberations. Schroeder also allowed them to watch on a large, high-resolution TV in the courtroom, with everyone else locked out.
However, Schroeder said he has been “very queasy” about the drone video, and expressed his concerns about whether it was technologically sound earlier in the trial.
Hot spots of divisionThe Arbery trial and Rittenhouse case reflect deeper political, racial divisions
Mistrial has not been decided by the judge
Schroeder on Wednesday allowed the jury to continue to view the evidence but said the mistrial requests will have to be addressed if there is a guilty verdict. Even if Rittenhouse was convicted, Schroeder could grant the motion to dismiss without prejudice. Rittenhouse can also appeal the decision on these same points.
Rittenhouse supporters had long dismissed the possibility of Rittenhouse being convicted. However, Rittenhouse was requesting a mistrial.
Last week, defense attorneys orally asked for the mistrial. According to the defense, prosecutors had improperly commented upon Rittenhouse’s rights to be silent. Later they tried to introduce evidence that was rejected by the judge.
The defense raised concerns regarding the use of drone video in a Monday written response to the request. Schroeder on Wednesday clarified that he hadn’t yet read the written motion and wanted to give prosecutors time to respond. By Wednesday they had not.
Learn More from SchroederKenosha courtshouse received letters of support as well as criticism from Rittenhouse trial judge.
Rittenhouse could spend as much time in prison as she likes.
While Rittenhouse’s most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide in Huber’s death, includes a mandatory life sentence, he could face lengthy prison time for the other charges, too.
Jurors may consider lesser charges in Huber’s death that could carry up to 60 years in prison, and the first-degree reckless homicide charge in Rosenbaum’s death also carries up to 60 years with an additional five additional years for the “use of a dangerous weapon” modifier.
You can find out more about the charges that are not included in this offer.Rittenhouse jury will look at lesser charges in fatal shootings. Let’s see what this means.
Grosskreutz’s attempted first-degree intentional murder could result in a sentence of 60 years plus five additional years for using the same weapon modifier. The jury may also consider other lesser charges.
Each count of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, connected to the unidentified man and the Daily Caller reporter, carries up to 12½ years in prison, plus a five-year weapon modifier.
Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; Elliot Hughes and Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel